Busting Myths Through Fun

Are You a Mythbuster?

Teacher Becky Marshall had just instructed students to make sure they had a plan before they started constructing their marble runs.

But Jack was eager to dive in. “Do we really need a plan?” he asked his teammates. “Let’s share ideas.”

Jack pointed to the pool noodle his teammate held. “We could cut out pieces so we can see the marble go through,” was his first idea. And then, “Let’s start really high!” Jack climbed onto a chair and draped the yellow pool noodle over a high shelf.

“We’re trying to bust how physics works,” in marble roller coasters, explained Teacher’s Assistant Maddox.

Other groups also took the “try it first, plan it later” approach to design. “Engage!” Nicholas shouted. He held the noodle high and launched a marble through the hole. “No! It’s not working! What if we turn it and angle it so it would fall into the loop-de-loop?” he suggested.

Matthew’s group not only devised a plan, but they even created a theme. “Ours is called Planet Coaster,” he said. “The idea is that it progresses through space. It starts here at Earth and goes by the other planets.” He pointed high up the wall where Earth would be placed.

“Can you run a routine test to see if it works?” Matthew asked teammate Aiden as he held a temporary loop in place.

Emmett and Xavier colored white paper plates to represent the planets. Emmett’s plate was bright red. “It’s Mars, the giant red planet,” he said.

Xavier outlined green and blue portions on the Earth model. “We’re making all the planets,” Emmett said.

“Guys, don’t forget to make the moon!” reminded Aiden.

The marble coaster project grew out of other recent Mythbuster activities. Last week, the classes went to Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America to learn about the physics of rides.

“It was to see if we could hold our food in our stomachs,” Olivia teased. Luckily, everyone accomplished that goal. She said she tried a few new rides, including her favorite – the Spongebob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge, a roller coaster that features a crazy steep drop.

Sydney said they are using principles they learned from the rides at Nickelodeon to develop their own coasters. From the Spongebob ride, for example, they learned that cars must have a lot of speed to successfully spin through a loop. Spongebob has a steep drop, “and then goes into the loop right away because it still has the speed,” Sydney said.

“Yeah, you still have the momentum from the drop to make the loop,” Tessa said.

Tessa and Sydney both loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock ride. “That was terrifying!” Tessa said, wide-eyed. Both girls listed the ride as their favorite of the day. Evidently, the terror only added to the fun.

Matthew said their Nickelodeon experience also prompted them to make water slides on Friday. “We got big plastic tarps and pounded them down with stakes. We covered the edges with pool noodles,” he said. “Then we poured water on it and slid down. It was actually quite fun!”

Today’s special event featured a chef and food scientist who explored food myths with students. During the mythbusting, students helped the chef to make a tres leches cake – a moist delicacy incorporating three types of milk. I’m not sure they busted a myth with the result, but you can bet it tasted good!